Red Rock Sound EQ173 [WiN]

EQ173 Preamp & EQ VST plugin
  • Publisher: Red Rock Sound
  • Product: EQ173 Preamp & EQ
  • Release: BUBBiX
  • Version: 1.0.4
  • Format: VST2/VST3/AAX

Explore Red Rock Sound EQ173: A versatile EQ plugin inspired by classic hardware, offering mid/side processing, multi-channel support, and intuitive routing for modern mixing.

Red Rock Sound’s EQ173 is a digital homage to a legendary class-A, transistor-based mic/line amp and EQ from the 1970s. This plugin aims to capture the revered clarity, sheen, and bite of its hardware inspiration while offering expanded functionality for contemporary mixing workflows. In this review, we’ll explore the features, sound quality, and usability of EQ173 to help potential users decide if it’s the right tool for their production needs.

EQ173 is built on a detailed model of the original hardware, known for its musical coloration and ability to add character to audio signals. Red Rock Sound has expanded on this foundation, adding modern features like mid/side processing and multi-channel support for immersive mixing environments.

Key Features

  1. Multiple EQ Units
    • Four independent EQ units available
    • Units can be arranged in series for complex processing chains
    • Ideal for separate processing of mid/side or multi-channel content
  2. Flexible Input Routing
    • Supports 44 common channel setups (from stereo to 7.1.4 and 9.1.6)
    • Custom routing profiles with up to 16 independent channels
    • Facilitates use in various mixing scenarios, from stereo to immersive audio
  3. Channel Selection
    • Ability to activate specific channels for each EQ unit
    • Enables precise control over which channels are affected by each EQ
  4. Mid/Side Processing
    • Built-in support for mid/side equalization
    • Allows for enhanced stereo manipulation and spatial control
  5. Multi-channel Support
    • Designed for use in immersive mixing environments
    • Capable of processing bed channels in surround and 3D audio formats
  6. Intuitive UI and Workflow Features
    • Renaming capabilities for EQ units
    • Solo and bypass functions for each unit
    • Copy/paste functionality between units

Sound Quality

EQ173 excels in recreating the warmth and character of its hardware inspiration. The plugin imparts a subtle, musical coloration that can add depth and dimension to tracks. The EQ curves are smooth and natural-sounding, allowing for both broad tonal shaping and precise surgical adjustments.

The addition of mid/side processing capabilities extends the plugin’s versatility, enabling users to sculpt the stereo field with the same classic EQ character. This combination of vintage tone and modern functionality makes EQ173 a powerful tool for both corrective and creative equalization tasks.

User Experience

The interface of EQ173 strikes a balance between vintage aesthetics and modern functionality. The layout is intuitive, with clear visual feedback on EQ settings and channel routing. The ability to rename EQ units and create custom routing profiles enhances workflow efficiency, especially in complex mixing scenarios.

The solo and bypass functions for each EQ unit are particularly useful, allowing for quick comparisons and isolated listening. The copy/paste feature between units streamlines the process of applying similar settings across multiple channels or creating variations on a particular EQ curve.

Performance

EQ173 demonstrates efficient CPU usage, even when running multiple instances in a complex mix. The plugin introduces minimal latency, making it suitable for real-time monitoring and mixing scenarios. Its performance scales well in multi-channel setups, maintaining stability in demanding immersive audio projects.

Creative Applications

  • Mixing: Shape individual tracks or busses with classic EQ character
  • Mastering: Add final polish and cohesion to stereo or multi-channel mixes
  • Post-Production: Enhance dialogue clarity and balance surround elements
  • Sound Design: Create unique tonal variations for sound effects or musical elements
  • Immersive Audio: Fine-tune spatial elements in 3D audio mixes

Comparison to Similar Tools

While many DAWs include stock EQ plugins, EQ173 sets itself apart with its emulation of classic hardware and expanded functionality. Its mid/side and multi-channel capabilities put it in league with high-end mixing and mastering EQs, while its vintage-inspired sound offers a unique flavor compared to more clinically precise digital EQs.

Pros

  • Authentic emulation of classic hardware EQ
  • Flexible routing and channel selection for modern workflows
  • Mid/side processing capabilities
  • Support for immersive audio formats
  • Intuitive interface with helpful workflow features

Cons

  • May be overkill for users needing only basic EQ functions
  • Learning curve for fully utilizing multi-channel and routing capabilities
  • Vintage-inspired sound may not suit all modern production styles

Red Rock Sound’s EQ173 is a versatile and powerful equalization tool that successfully bridges the gap between vintage hardware inspiration and modern mixing requirements. Its combination of classic EQ character, mid/side processing, and multi-channel support makes it a valuable asset for a wide range of audio production tasks.

The plugin’s intuitive interface and workflow features, such as custom routing profiles and independent EQ units, demonstrate Red Rock Sound’s understanding of contemporary production needs. While it may offer more complexity than some users require for basic EQ tasks, its depth of functionality makes it a strong contender for professionals working across various audio formats.

EQ173 earns a solid 4.7 out of 5 stars. It offers an impressive blend of vintage sound quality and modern functionality, making it suitable for everything from subtle tonal shaping to complex immersive audio mixing. The plugin’s flexibility and sound quality justify its place among high-end equalization tools.

Whether you’re a mixing engineer looking to add character to your tracks, a mastering professional seeking precision in stereo and surround formats, or a post-production specialist working in immersive audio, EQ173 provides the tools to shape your sound with both vintage charm and modern precision. Its ability to handle diverse channel configurations and processing scenarios makes it a valuable addition to any serious audio professional’s toolkit.

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